Fort Mill Times

School mourns loss of Indian Land boy, 9; coroner says he died of asphyxia

Harrisburg Elementary School in Indian Land is dealing with the loss of a fourth-grade student, Dylan Lemieux.
Harrisburg Elementary School in Indian Land is dealing with the loss of a fourth-grade student, Dylan Lemieux.

Harrisburg Elementary School is mourning the loss of a fourth-grade student who authorities say died of asphyxia.

Few details were available Friday from Lancaster County authorities on the circumstances surrounding the death of 9-year-old Dylan Lemieux two days earlier.

“The cause of death of a Harrisburg Elementary student is asphyxia,” the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office said in a release Friday.

The death is being investigated by the coroner’s office, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and SLED Child Fatality Division, the release stated.

“Dylan was — I refer to him in the present, Dylan is — just a cool little guy,” said Harrisburg Principal Steven Puckett. “He was pretty visible in the school. There are just some people who have a more authentic energy than others, and that’s how he was.”

Doug Barfield with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said the agency answered a call Wednesday “concerning an unresponsive child who was transported to the hospital, where he died. We do have an open investigation, as does the coroner’s office.”

Barfield said the agency was releasing few details.

Puckett notified Dylan’s homeroom before school Thursday.

Dylan attended Harrisburg Elementary since it opened in 2014. Thursday was a hard day for the school’s students and staff, who had grief counselors present.

“They were grieving,” Puckett said. “Everybody grieving in their own way.”

In March, 7-year-old Bryson McSweeney died after riding his bicycle into the path of a car in his subdivision not far from the school.

Another Indian Land student, 11-year-old Garrett Pope Jr., died in August. The Indian Land Middle School sixth-grader died from accidental asphyxiation while playing what has been called “the choking game,” a practice in which law enforcement officials say children use a rope or belt to cut off their oxygen to induce a temporary loss of consciousness and gain a sense of euphoria.

Puckett will remember Lemieux as a “good-natured kid who seemed like he never met a stranger.” The school has a weekly game ball program to recognize achievements or feats of character to a top performer. On Friday, Lemieux’s class presented him one.

“Dylan definitely had positive energy,” Puckett said. “The teachers definitely tried to channel that and he could be a leader in the classroom."

The principal said Friday morning details on a memorial or ways the community can assist the family haven’t been determined.

“That’s a pretty strong characteristic of this community,” Puckett said. “They want to help."

Efforts to reach the family were unsuccessful Friday.